By Betsy Robertson
One of the lesser known but most appreciated services the American Red Cross provides is to the men, women and family members of our military. As the nation prepared to remember and honor these individuals on Veterans Day 2016, supporters of the American Red Cross in South Puget Sound hosted an event to raise awareness of and provide support for our local Service to Armed Forces (SAF) efforts.
By Kristen Vodak
Classrooms normally reserved for first aid and CPR training were repurposed for war simulations and a mock international criminal court. On Friday, November 18 the Red Cross International Services Department hosted the highly interactive “Raid Cross” – a program developed by the Red Cross to help provide young people a framework to interpret violence in the media and to understand these situations from a humanitarian point of view. Continue reading
by Colin Downey
The concept of “neighbors helping neighbors” is one idea that connects all Red Cross volunteers. It makes no difference if those neighbors have suffered a home fire down the street or a flood across the country. Continue reading
When large weather events strike Western Washington, our Pacific Ocean coastline often bears the brunt of the storm. Strong winds and heavy rains have the potential to cause significant damage and impact the people who live there. Continue reading
By Colin Downey
“Service to others”is not just a catch-phrase to American Red Cross volunteer and Walla Walla resident Dixie Ferguson. It’s her way of life and has been for decades. Last week, Dixie was recognized for her tireless commitment to others – particularly U.S. veterans – as she was honored with the “Volunteer of the Year” award given by the Pacific Division of the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program.
The honor – and ensuing party – were a total surprise to Dixie. “It was over-the-top,” she said. “It was the best kept secret in this small town. I get emotional just talking about it.” The gathering was held at Park Plaza, a retirement community home to many of the veterans Dixie has served for years.
Dixie joined the American Red Cross in 1966 after she graduated from college with a degree in social work when she heard the Red Cross was hiring to work with the military members overseas.
“I learned about the Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas (SRAO), a special Red Cross program for women college graduates during wartime. I was excited about the job description, a unique opportunity to serve my country, do humanitarian work and seek new adventures.”
Dixie worked as a recreation worker, nicknamed “Donut Dolly” by the service members. From 1966 to 1967, Dixie was in Vietnam helping military members. Later she went on to work as a recreational worker in several military hospitals state-side.
Fifty years later, Dixie is still very active with the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program in Walla Walla, Washington. Her main responsibilities are as an outreach coordinator and emergency communications caseworker. She’s also been instrumental in helping to document the stories of World War II veterans. These accounts are cataloged in Washington D.C. at the Library of Congress as part of the “Veterans History Project”.
“The Red Cross is still serving the military and veterans every hour of the day and I am extremely proud to be a volunteer supporting the Armed Forces,” Dixie said. “It changed my life. It opened incredible doors to travel and serve veterans. That’s my passion.”
“In light of current global challenges, the program continues to be a vital connection for families, among agencies and countries,” said Carmela Burke, a Red Cross volunteer and class participant. “Red Cross turns devastation and separation into the hope of restoration.”
Armed conflict, international disasters and migration leave millions of people around the globe in urgent need of humanitarian assistance every year. As a truly worldwide network, the volunteers of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent are able to help families reconnect.
For program information and general inquiries use the International Reconnecting Families Inquiry Form. Or call: 202-303-1600.